Experiential Learning: TeamSTEPPS

By Mindy Longhurst

group photo

An image of the TeamSTEPPS research team at the American Hospital Association annual conference. Left to right: Kapri Beus, assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker, Camry Shawcroft, Amber Anderson, Sara Durrant Weeks and assistant teaching professor Michael Thomas. Image courtesy of Shawcroft.

Many nurses know that Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS) is a teamwork system developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Department of Defense to improve communication and teamwork in healthcare. While studies have validated its clinical use, research on how to incorporate it into a nursing program is limited.

Assistant teaching professor Dr. Michael Thomas, has created a second-semester, peer-taught nursing course that focuses on TeamSTEPPS. The Teaching Assistants (TAs) for the course instruct the class. The four TAs for the communications course are also Research Assistants for Thomas and assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker. Their research focuses on the most effective ways to teach the TeamSTEPPS tools and objectives to fellow nursing students and how to help faculty members implement the TeamSTEPPS tools and objectives throughout the program.

Thomas, Hunsaker and the four TAs (Amber Anderson, Kapri Beus, Camry Shawcroft and Sara Durrant Weeks) were able to present their research findings at the American Hospital Association annual conference in San Diego last June.

Anderson explains, “I loved the conference! I feel very grateful to be a student here at BYU, specifically in the nursing program where the faculty members are so engaged in the student’s learning. And they provide us with such amazing opportunities to be involved in the professional world, to help train us to become leaders in the future.” The experiences of being able to present their findings at a national conference helped to build confidence in their nursing and leadership abilities.

Presenting their findings at a national conference was a new experience for the TAs. In most nursing schools, undergraduate students do not get the opportunity to help with the research process. As a result, most of the people who attend these conferences are already established in their career. Shawcroft says, “Those that attend the conference are healthcare educators, hospital administration and other medical professions there too. We talked about the peer teaching model and talked about going to other faculty and thinking of ways to incorporate TeamSTEPPS throughout the program. We talked about the evaluation tool that we created. Stacie talked about a new handoff tool that they made based on TeamSTEPPS. Basically, just what we are doing as a college to implement TeamSTEPPS.”

The nursing students were the youngest people at the conference. Anderson expounds, “It was really great because there were a lot of people who were amazed that we were undergraduate students. Because generally, the people that we were presenting to they are already working in the hospitals or they are care managers in their facility. It was neat to have a student’s perspective as to how to best teach it to other students. We had some academic professionals there as well who were able to come and really took some of our ideas and incorporated that back home.”

After their presentation, many individuals came up to them asking for more information about what they do. Shawcroft says, “After we presented, there were some people that were interested. I remember there was a lady that was from another nursing college and she was really interested in the peer teaching method. There were a lot of people that were just very supportive of students participating in the process and implementing the TeamSTEPPS tools and objectives throughout the program. Some were impressed and supportive that some undergraduate students were given the opportunity to do what we were doing.”

Overall, the students were able to use the knowledge that they have gained throughout learning and teaching about the TeamSTEPPS program and helped to spread this information further.

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